"An eagle!" my soldier yells. "Look out! Help me!" My men, who I've seen stand fast in the face of overwhelming machine gun fire, are scattering because of a dive-bombing bird. The eagle circles overhead, taunting me before swooping down and raking its claws across my arm.
Just as I start to recover, an enemy patrol drives by and spots us shooting into the air. They decide to join the party, aiming at us briefly before a rhinoceros slams into their truck and throws them over a cliff.
And that's when the mortar fire starts raining down on our heads. Aimed at me? Aimed at my fellow soldiers? Aimed at the eagle? I don't even know anymore.
Welcome to Far Cry 4.
Listen, if I could take my review of Far Cry 3, cover it in snow, strap it into a wingsuit, and then copy and paste it into this spot, I would.
Were you a fan of Far Cry 3? Did you find it exhilarating to climb radio towers, "liberate" outposts with hot lead, stab a few animals to turn their skins into new items, and generally cause mayhem? Did you enjoy doing these actions in an easy, consequence-free sandbox without the strain of Far Cry 2's realistic malaria simulation ticking in the background?
That's great, because Far Cry 4 is The Hangover 2 of video games (except Far Cry 4 is actually entertaining and The Hangover 2 was a massive disappointment). Take everything you love about Far Cry 3, put a different name on it, retexture it, and voila! Brand new game. Climb bell towers, liberate outposts that are Nepalese instead of tropical, fight against Pagan Min instead of Vaas, and murder Tibetan wolves instead of jungle wolves.
Even the story hits the same general beats. You're an American dude, Ajay Ghale, trying to spread his mother's ashes in Kyrat. The catch, of course, is that Kyrat is under the oppressive thumb of one Pagan Min, the pink-suit-wearing dictator who cares more about blood on his shoes than human lives.
The overarching story is bland "liberate this country" schlock, made even worse by the fact that we've literally played it twice over already. It's not out-and-out as condescending as Far Cry 3, but in some ways it makes even less sense — you voluntarily traveled to a war zone and then... what? Became a revolutionary leader? All you were trying to do was deliver your mom's ashes!
That central through-line is lost so quickly that every time the game brought up my mom's cremated body again I'd literally go, "Oh right, I forgot about that." Ubisoft tries to broaden the story a bit by adding in some choices along the way, which slightly change your mission objectives, but this is a by-the-numbers story.
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